As a company, we have established a growth opportunity in the System Integration of software into both Building and Industrial Automation. The software should be simple and easy to use. The software interface is commonly called Human Machine Interface (HMI).
In the simplest terms and as is illustrated in the following figure, a Human Machine Interface (HMI) is a User Interface (UI) that allows a human to interact with hardware in a simple, intuitive manner. Usually, the UI is designed with a pleasant color scheme and much time is spent on ease of use. Anymore, if a child cannot operate the UI, then the UI needs to be thrown away and redone.
Human Machine Interface (HMI)
Between the hardware and the UI is an interface that directs traffic and the UI interprets the signals provided by the hardware to present the human with alerts, status, and other information from the hardware. The interface can also store information for historical trend information to be presented in the HMI as well.
Typically, a simple Industrial Automation site has several Programmable Logic Controller’s also known as PLC’s. A PLC monitors the state of input devices and makes decisions based upon a custom program to control the state of output devices.
Programmable Logic Controller
The PLC is the traffic cop and can change an operation or process quickly while collecting and communicating vital data to the HMI. PLC’s are modular and can be intertwined and have many data points flowing in real-time. The customer can determine what information they want to see.
We apply the KISS principal to Interactive Human Machine Interfaces (HMI). With all kinds of information available from automation systems, sometimes all the customer wants to see is something simple like Red, Green, and Yellow. The idea is “simple” interfaces that are customized to what you want to see on their dashboard.
We work with the customer to determine exactly what they want to see. The final product has THEIR logo, THEIR colors, and the menu options THEY want. We do not use complex animations, and we try to keep text to a minimum so that they get a streamlined user experience that is very functional.
Visualization of Data
Although we will offer products on our website for purchase and have installers, we believe our growth opportunity is in the visualization of the data obtained from these products.
- Being able to preserve existing investments in control and monitoring devices and integrating them with new standards-based technologies.
- Ability to access and control ALL diverse systems through a standard web browser, smartphone or desktop application.
- Combining information from different systems to support better overall facility management and control.
- Being able to specify interoperable systems and applications from multiple vendors, thereby reducing the potential for vendor lock-in.
- Multiple paybacks in the form of performance efficiencies, reduced capital, and operational expenses, and greater returns.
By comparison, the technological concept that makes it possible to integrate different systems is simple. Each building system is given a software agent or a hardware device that figuratively reads all of the transactions being carried by its particular system.
Energy and Load Management
The first step to an effective energy management program for a commercial building is to learn how and when each piece of equipment uses energy. The rate at which energy is used will vary throughout the day depending on usage and demand. The demand is calculated, and monthly energy consumption is calculated. The results may be surprising and a great selling point for a commercial building to invest in a BAS.
The electrical loads are calculated and off-peak times are determined. Available electrical rate schedules are acquired to determine which can provide the lowest cost in conjunction with appropriate operational times.
Electricity is typically billed in two ways: by the quantity of energy used over a period, measured in kilowatt-hours; and by demand, the rate of flow of energy, measured in kilowatts. By choosing when and where to use electricity, commercial buildings can often save as much (or more) money as they could by reducing energy consumption.